In an attempt to keep teens from hanging out on Sixth Street SW near the high school, Perham City Councilors have agreed to designate the block from First to Second Ave. as ‘Resident Only Parking.’
The new parking rule will apply 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Police Chief Jason Hoaby said enforcement of the rule will relax during school events, when that block is needed for public parking.
“This will solve some of the traffic problems created in the morning when kids are getting dropped off,” Hoaby told city councilors at a meeting last week. “This should also resolve some of the issues they’ve been having in that area.”
Some Sixth Street residents have long complained of students standing around in front of their houses, where the kids often park their cars, during and after school hours. There have been specific complaints of underage smoking, as well as littering.
The block was at the center of a recent controversy involving a website that encouraged Perham residents to watch out for and report possible illegal activity by teens. That site had referred to the block as “Stoner Alley” and urged residents to be on the lookout for possible drug use.
After some negative feedback, that site, ittakesavillageperham.com, has since been completely redone and now has a ‘neighbor helping neighbor’ focus, encouraging people to post any needs they have (such as yard work) or services they’d be willing to help someone else out with.
While that website’s original focus may be gone, the issue of kids hanging out along Sixth Street didn’t necessarily go away with it.
Hoaby has said that as long as the kids aren’t blocking traffic and are not on private property, they’re not considered to be loitering, and there’s not much the police department can do. The school can address truancy issues, but that doesn’t keep the kids from congregating in or around their cars.
City leaders surmised that designating Sixth Street as ‘Resident Only Parking’ may help keep kids from gathering there.
According to Hoaby, the high school has “plenty of parking in their lot” and does not need the room along Sixth Street for student or staff parking.